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Govt gets low marks for delivering teachers’ benefits

GTU Outgoing President, Colin Bynoe seated in the front row second from left. The others are Guest Speaker Ed Caesar, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds and Minister of Education Priya Manickchand.

Outgoing President of the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), Colin Bynoe Tuesday night accused government of dragging its feet in the implementation of several aspects of a multi-year salary and benefits agreement.

Delivering his Presidential Address to the GTU’s 4th Biennial Delegates Conference at the union’s headquarters, Bynoe lamented that the more than 10,000 teachers were yet to reap the rewards of the 2011-2016 memorandum of understanding on the terms and conditions of employment.

“Some aspects of this agreement have not been implemented to date,” he told an almost packed auditorium whose special invitees included Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Education Minister Priya Manickchand, Opposition Leader David Granger and Shadow Education Minister Amna Ally.

The package includes five percent increase in salaries for all categories of teachers, de-bunching, duty-free concessions for head teachers and deputies of Grade A schools for motorcars, All Terrain Vehicles and outboard engines, a housing revolving fund, house lots for teachers, return air/bus-fare for coastland teachers serving in the hinterland as well as their spouses and two children under 18 years old, Whitley Council Leave Allowance, scholarships for teachers to attend the University of Guyana, review of class-size per teacher ratio, review of the performance of school boards and the provision of clothing allowances.

The GTU President singled out de-bunching, review of class-size per teacher ratio and the housing revolving fund as aspects of the agreement that have not been implemented. Bynoe explained that “the matter of de-bunching is a very serious one” because the amount of money payable for increases is going up every month. “The Guyana Teachers Union will not stand idly by if we are not paid our de-bunching money retroactively,” he warned.

With negotiations expected to begin for a new multi-year agreement, Bynoe flagged new areas that should be included in such an accord. They include allowance for teachers at Special Education schools, reintroduction of agency dues and increased pensions for retired teachers.

Bynoe recalled that straw polls conducted by him have revealed, among other things, that teachers believe that attractive salaries and conditions of service will help to reduce migration to sister Caribbean Community (Caricom) countries.

The GTU conference is being held from April 22 to 25 under the theme “Enhancing The Professional Attributes Amongst Teachers Whilst Promoting Inclusive Education”.